• 1844

    The Beginning

    Penfolds was founded by a young English doctor who migrated to one of his country's most distant colonies over a century and a half ago. Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold was born in 1811, the youngest of 11 children. He studied medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, graduating in 1838.
    In 1844 Dr Penfold and his wife Mary purchased the Mackgill estate, “comprising 500 acres of the choicest land.” By all accounts it was Mary Penfold who was responsible for the management and early winemaking responsibilities of the fledgling wine estate. Initially the wines - made from grenache – were prescribed as tonic wines for anaemic patients and the famous Penfolds slogan ‘1844 to evermore’ harks back to its origins as a prescribed tonic.

  • 1870s

    Early success

    By 1870 the Grange vineyard comprised over 60 acres with several different grape varieties including grenache, verdelho, mataro (mourvèdre), frontignac and pedro ximenez. The estate was producing both sweet and dry red wine and white table wines, with a growing market in the eastern Australian colonies of Victoria and New South Wales. A catalogue from 1889 lists wines from the Grange and Magill vineyards as Mataro, Grenache, Constantia, Grange Port, Frontignac, Grange Tawny, Pedro Ximenes, Tokay, Madeira, Grange Sherry and Muscadine. The catalogue adds: “We have also light red and white dinner wines of claret and riesling types, suitable for use in Clubs.”
    Penfolds and Co. – the newly formed partnership of Mary Penfold and her son-in-law Thomas Hyland and her cellar manager Joseph Gillard – now claimed to be producing over one-third of South Australia’s wine. Mary Penfold passed away in 1896 after a remarkable contribution to Australia’s wine industry.

  • 1900s

    Expansion

    Fortified wine production dominated the industry throughout the first part of the 1900s and Penfolds gained a strong reputation for its fortified wines during the 1920s and ‘30s. Between the world wars the market for fine table wine in Australia was extremely limited. Penfolds did, however, produce an ‘Italian Red’ for Italian migrants working the cane fields of Queensland.
    In 1943, Penfolds acquired the highly regarded and valuable Auldana Vineyard and winery – adjacent to the Magill vineyard. In 1945, Penfolds purchased the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley – at this time the largest vineyard in South Australia. By the late 1940s Penfolds had acquired or planted vineyards in McLaren Vale, Griffith, the Hunter Valley and Minchinbury.

  • 1951

    Grange 1951 - Today

    The wine market was changing rapidly by the late 1940s, as soldiers returned from the war and new immigrants settled in Australia. Max Schubert, then a young winemaker at Penfolds, returned to Europe after the war to investigate winemaking. The mission was to learn about sherry production, however a side trip to Bordeaux led to Schubert experimenting with a long-lived red wine that he called Grange.
    Schubert looks back on the 1950s Grange years as exciting years of discovery, faith, doubt, and ultimately triumph. In contrast, the 1960s were a period of vindication and Grange stole a march on the rest of the Australian wine industry by setting an incomparable benchmark for longevity, concentration and balance.
    In August of 1995, Robert Parker, the world’s most influential wine critic, wrote in his self-published newsletter The Wine Advocate that Grange was “a leading candidate for the richest, most concentrated dry table wine on planet earth.” The acceptance of Grange as a great Australian wine had proved that Australia is capable of producing wines equal to the best in the world.

  • 1960s

    House style

    By the early 1960s Max Schubert saw the creation of a dynasty of wines that may differ in character from year to year, but would all bear an unmistakable resemblance to each other. The backbone of Penfolds’ emerging red wine portfolio – Bin 389, Bin 707, Bin 28 and Bin 128 – were all introduced during this time.
    In 1976 the baton of Penfolds Chief Winemaker passed from Schubert to Don Ditter, who continued to contribute to and refine the house style. The remarkable reintroduction of Penfolds Bin 707 in 1976 illustrated Penfolds’ commitment to a premium cabernet sauvignon and within just a few years would come to be recognised as one of Australia’s leading wines.
    John Duval ensured a smooth transition of winemaking philosophy when he took over as Penfolds Chief Winemaker in 1986. Refinement of house style continued and Duval’s outstanding technical ability and instinctive nature are decisively illustrated in the profoundly opulent and beautifully balanced wines of the 1980s.

  • 1990s

    A new chapter

    The 1990s was a period of intense winemaking trials. The ‘White Grange’ project saw the release of Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay. The barrage of media attention was extraordinary, illustrating Australia’s national interest in the Penfolds brand. Red wine trials resulted in the release of Penfolds’ first Barossa shiraz, RWT (Red Winemaking Trial).
    In 2002 veteran oenologist Peter Gago became Chief Winemaker and since that time Penfolds has reached into every major wine market in the world. Stand-out releases have included two Special Bin Wines from the 2004 vintage, Block 42 and Bin 60A. 2010 saw the introduction of Penfolds’ first Bin Pinot Noir. Taking its number from maturation cellar 23 at Magill Estate, Bin 23 Pinot Noir is a bold addition to the range. Penfolds wines are now widely celebrated for their diversity and quality across many price-points. The strength of Penfolds is that the wine comes first. Penfolds’ range of table wines is utterly Australian, evoking a generosity of spirit and the beauty of the Australian landscape.